Makers of Melbourne

Welcome to Makers Of Melbourne – the ‘go to’ guide for our technically integrated age.

Makers Of Melbourne has been created to consume and assimilate Melbourne culture. We're male focussed, but not male specific, sorting through the dross to weed out the creative stars, standout events and stylish folk that make this city unique. 

MOM aims to embrace all facets of what makes this city a creative hub. Our aim is to inform without condescending – to keep you abreast of what’s going on without regurgitating Press Releases & to seek out this city’s sub cultures to give our readers the inside scoop on what’s REALLY happening with the people who make Melbourne Melbourne.

Filtering by Tag: artist

Interview: Lucia Mocnay

photos by:  aglaia-b.com

photos by: aglaia-b.com

Although it may sound strange, the turn of events that lead artist Lucia Mocnay to create her first piece of anthropomorphic taxidermy wasn’t that unusual.

Having completed her Bachelor of Fine Art at Monash University in 2001, the Slovakian born, Melbourne raised Mocnay began working with mixed media and found objects before taking her first step into this slightly macabre world by collecting and framing insects.

Lucia: “I’d been working with natural objects for ages and one day I found a grasshopper and thought it’d be cool to try and mount it. My uncle had preserved insects all around his house and I figured that I could teach myself how to do it.”

As a child young Lucia would scour the ground looking for interesting rocks and bones, which she would then take home and turn into art. One hobby lead to another and when Lucia’s boyfriend Justin, a trained tattooist, began looking into buying a piece of taxidermy to use as illustrative inspiration she jumped at the opportunity to add a fox to their burgeoning collection of curios. The couple bought a piece that in retrospect she states was badly made and the young creative made the instant decision to teach herself the art of taxidermy.

 Lucia: “I went from not liking the sensation of touching meat to working with the skins of animals. I remember the first time I unveiled a fox skin it was very strange. Once you start thinking about the creative process, and start to imagine the piece that you’re creating, you forget about what’s in your hands.”

With her mind filled with inspiration, Mocnay began to feel the magic of creating
a piece of art from what had once been a living creature. It’s an experience she describes to Makers as being “magical and inspiring” and it seems that for Lucia there’s no turning back. Her current work is based on children’s fairy tales and universal creation myths, historical eras and beloved characters. She creates one off pieces from ethically sourced furs, put together with conscious and curious involvement. 

Lucia: “I don’t want my animals to look like Frankenstein’s monster. I try to keep a healthy respect for the animal and its spirit. My partner, being an illustrator and tattooist had gotten me to dress up over the years and pose for drawings that he then used for sleeves and backdrops. I’d dress up and pretend to be say, a gypsy, zombie or bride so he could take photographs. I ended up with a wardrobe full of costumes and after we bought that original fox I started dressing it up. I had so many ideas for different characters and that was about the same time that I thought I’d teach myself how to taxidermy.”

It’s interesting how all of the elements of Lucia’s life have come together. For the artist it seems the decision was more organic than a conscious choice. Things evolved and she continues to be inspired by both her animals and the art her partner creates.

Over the past few years the popularity of taxidermy has surged in Melbourne. Lucia credits the rise to several factors including the steady increase in the number of consumers wanting to fill their homes with unusual antiques & a newfound appreciation from the general public for old artisan skills. The taboo of working with dead animals is also slowly lifting as artists such as Lucia have made the conscious choice to work with ethically sourced animals.  

Lucia currently works on a commission basis as she explores the option of gallery representation. With her first exhibition in the planning stage, she is keen to “clear her studio” of the pieces she has been working on over the past few years. In the meantime she continues to build up her skill set, working alongside her partner and two children in their home studio.

conjuredcreations.com

Interview: Richard McLean

Richard McLean is a total surprise package. An artist cloaked in the outer shell of a man of otherwise ordinary appearance. Yet the very word – ordinary – is at stark odds with the voice expressed in Richard’s visual and written work.

He meets Makers in South Melbourne following a few false starts. The meeting is a little rushed and Richard’s discomfort with that is clear. The artist appears as one who wears his emotional skin on the outside: an uncomfortable day-to-day proposition, perhaps, but one that surely informs so much of his arresting illustrations – works that vacillate between description of a poignant moment and pictures of moving torment finely wrought with nuanced tension.

Richard: “If you pick your life before you come here, then I picked a hard challenge. As the artist you’re on the outside of society, and it’s the same for people with mental illness.”

This last point is one with particular relevance to Richard, one who speaks openly around his own journey in coming to terms with – in his own words, “recovering” from – the onset of schizophrenia.

Yet as difficult as the journey has been (deftly illustrated in his decade-old book, Recovered, Not Cured: A Journey Through Schizophrenia) the artist appears to value the focus it has lent him, the drive to conscientiously adhere to a continual practice of self-assessment and self discovery.

Jesus of Suburbia

Jesus of Suburbia

Steinberg Still Life

Steinberg Still Life

It’s a drive he clearly identifies as being the impetus behind one his latest works, www.theuniversalembrace.com.

Richard: “The creative spirit is, for me, centred around talking about you and your place in the world and making peace with your past. It’s recreating your self in a way that’s looking over your whole life in a present moment. And the ultimate reason to do all this is love - love of the self, love of another and love of the greater universe and the way you fit in to it.”

Williamstown

Williamstown

And the fit of Richard? Like all of us, he is continually fighting for that knowledge – expressing his angst in those stirring illustrations while revelling in the playfulness of childhood with Grogan the Monster, a bright and nonsensical children’s book that will be launched during mental health week this this October as a fundraiser for The Royal Children’s Hospital.

Richard: “Not all of the art is dire, and not all of it is tormented. Some of it is very joyous. But creativity is something I will always do. It’s something I can’t stop doing: sometimes you feel jaded, you have success, you feel satisfied for a while – there is this cycle of up and down. Just like life."

www.creativemusings.com.au

 

Self Portrait Red t-shirt

Self Portrait Red t-shirt

Lemon Tree

Lemon Tree

Interview: Julia deVille

“I don’t really look outward for inspiration – I have enough that comes from within."

 Julia deVille

It’s been a long 10-months for Julia deVille. Makers meets her after a few false starts, earlier arrangements derailed by a week-long illness arriving as the result of exhaustion: the artist has spent the better part of a year working 12- to 13-hour days in order to keep up with a demanding schedule as her star continues to rise.

Certainly it appears that the woman whose inspiration rises from Victorian-era ideals of life, death and nature – art works realised through her dual passions of taxidermy and jewellery – has created a rich niche for herself in an art world enamoured of her confronting visions. 

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And they are confronting. Having opened the door to her Collingwood warehouse studio, Julia leads us through the diaspora of beauty and death that is her working space: look to the right and take in her striking rings and necklaces replete with Gothic motifs; look to the left and your gaze may fall upon three taxidermied puppies curled up on porcelain salad plates.

That Julia sees no philosophical clash between her animal loving, vegan nature and her taxidermied works speaks clearly to the artist’s unique view of the world.

Julia: “My grandmother gave me her fox fur stole when I was five or six, one of those styles with the head and you would wrap it and hold the tail in its mouth. I loved it. I used to dress up in it and I felt like it was still alive because it had all its features. So as soon as I worked out taxidermy was something you could do, I wanted to learn how to do it.  And then I’ve always just been a massive animal lover – I became a vegetarian when I was nine and I’m now vegan – so, for me, taxidermy was a way of celebrating animals and being around them when you are growing up in a city. As a child I was always interested in death, so for me it seems entirely normal and not at all macabre.”

These words are spoken as she sits, surrounded by vases of dead roses dried to preserve their skeletal beauty, the glint of her Victorian-era inspired silver rings catching the light.

She acknowledges that, initially at least, her work was often viewed through a lens of shock. Like the mouse brooch created from a taxidermied rodent whose eyes were replaced with diamonds and its tail a cord of silver – for Julia the ideal marriage as she undertook both a jewellery design course and a mentorship working alongside a retired Melbourne taxidermist.

Julia: “When I first started blending taxidermy and jewellery it was considered plain crazy, but then I’ve always been a bit different. Since then a lot more people have started to work in taxidermy and a lot of big art collectors are collecting it so it means I get to now do what I love and live off it.”

Certainly it is recognised among the Melbourne arts community that Julia is one of the more successful contemporary artists operating within a city teeming with talented creatives: a recent installation found its showing as part of the NGV’s Melbourne Now exhibition extended, while her current showing as part of the Adelaide Biennial, PHANTASMAGORIA, has generated critical acclaim. Not that the idea of acclaim appears to influence her degree of commitment.

Julia: “Recognition is not the driving force for me. The driving force is the creative process and the problem solving and making something that you really love. Anything else that comes is just a bonus.”

And the “bonuses” keep on coming: though confessing to “lone wolf” status (“I prefer my own company”) the artist now works alongside three assistants required to help her meet demand on a jewellery business that now spans the globe: along with growing demand in Australia and New Zealand, Julia’s pieces have found resonance as far away as Texas, Russia and Romania.

There is a rare, upcoming collaboration with painter and tattooist Leslie Rice (twice winner of the Doug Moran Portrait prize) for a joint show at Sophie Gannon Gallery scheduled for September, not to mention a still-born foal stored in one of her many freezers that will take centre stage for an installation planned for exhibit in 2015.

Of course, for Julia, it all comes back to following her passions, however dark they may seem to a world looking through the eccentric prism of her gaze.

Julia: “I would still be doing it as a hobby even if I couldn’t sell it. It’s always just been for the love of it.”



Interview: Patrick Martinez

 

“My family were blue collar working people. I didn’t know anyone in galleries or whatever. I use that difference as ammo: to keep working and pushing and keep it honest.”

-       Patrick Martinez

Patrick Martinez

Patrick Martinez

When local shoppers of the Los Angeles-area supermarket, El Tapatio Markets, took to the their ritual visit in October last year, they could have been excused for failing to notice, well, a little subtle redecoration.

Forget a new chocolate display, this was a full-scale, contemporary fine art installation: from the neon works casting subversive comments on life as we have become accustomed to living it, to the mixed media works camouflaged by our own indifference (think a plaster and paint Tupac ‘cake’ slipped in the dessert cool freeze). 

The artist was Patrick Martinez, the exhibition was “Break Bread” and the sentiment is something Makers sits with him to discuss off the back of his compelling Carbon forum as he prepares to return home following a brief visit to Melbourne.

"break bread market installation" - A one day site specific installation in a market context 2013   - Photos by Brandon Shigeta.

"break bread market installation" - A one day site specific installation in a market context 2013

 - Photos by Brandon Shigeta.

In a new art landscape where widespread interest in graffiti is being used by street artists as a launch pad in to an artistic career, Martinez presented as something different: a young artist of incredible focus for whom graffiti simply served as a small step on the climb up the fine art ladder.

Patrick: “The graffiti stuff, it’s place in my art was kind of like putting together a piece with colour and composition and subject: I was doing my drawing, then it was marker drawing and then it was a spray can that I picked up and then I was 22-years-old and always doing canvas work. It’s part of the journey.”

The “journey” is something Patrick has been on since sketching his way through a childhood filled with likeminded artistic family members who, despite their gifts, never succeeded in converting their creative passions (photography for his father, painting and sculpting for his grandfather and uncle) in to viable careers. 

'A dream deferred' - Neon 2013

'A dream deferred' - Neon 2013

But perhaps it was his mother that most influenced him, a woman with a passion for objects that got him thinking about the way we use decoration to construct the set that works as the backdrop to the performance of our lives.

Patrick: “She would buy things that she thought would enhance our house, but it was not quite right – china that was not great or mirrors with frosted bouquets of flowers that were meant to imitate a Rococco frame. She was just trying to work with what she had and that was interesting to me: people really try to dress up their situation and that stuff is inspiring to me if anything.”

Perhaps it’s this genuine curiosity and lack of judgement that (for the most part) saves Patrick’s works from falling victim to cynicism. In its place there is a spirit of the quizzical observer who is keen to present us all with a different perspective on life’s more mundane freeze frames. 

'Bread, butter, milk and eggs' - mixed media on acrylic plex and neon 2012

'Bread, butter, milk and eggs' - mixed media on acrylic plex and neon 2012

Patrick refers to it as keeping his gaze on “the phenomenology of his surroundings”. And it is this idea behind the art – as opposed to the catchy neon light box works that have garnered him such attention – that he prefers to think of as defining his artistic vocabulary.

Patrick: “I understand that right now, with technology, the neons are easy to digest. The internet is visual. It’s a perfect square to fit instagram which, as a medium, just kills for that stuff. It’s seductive. Having said that what I find interesting is the way that social media and the internet just gets it and multiplies it. But it’s not really my signature.”

So while we’re all busy regraming his incisive commentary – Pawn Your Dream For A 9-5 – Patrick is birthing his next powerful expression.

'Tough love' - Melted down hand guns, hard plastic, metal (bow) automotive paint with flake and clear 2012

'Tough love' - Melted down hand guns, hard plastic, metal (bow) automotive paint with flake and clear 2012

Patrick: “I love to be in my studio and just have my ideas and some of them are set and some of them come at me and I am taken aback – I will have to work on that piece.  Right now I’m working on an eight-foot by sixteen-foot piece and it’s huge but I had to stop because I was slammed by inspiration for another piece, and then I’m also working an a sculpture right now. It’s just about continuing to create and find that relationship in what it is I’m creating.

'Savage Journey To The American Dream' - mixed media on plex and neon 2012

'Savage Journey To The American Dream' - mixed media on plex and neon 2012

Interview: Nicholas Jones

It’s very much for me that inspiration comes in many forms and as the result of different prompts along the way – literature or music or architecture. Certain things will peak my interest and then I might work away from that.

                                                  -  Nicholas Jones

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Stepping in to the studio of artist Nicholas Jones in Melbourne’s historic Nicholas Building is a little like stepping back in time, and one gets the feeling that’s exactly the way he likes it. A ‘creative’ of stunning originality, Nicholas has made his name birthing beautiful sculptures fashioned from books: delicate, origami-like configurations; elaborate cut-outs; whimsical interpretations of page and word.

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Nicholas: “I was doing a sculpture and fine arts degree at the VCA when, during the third year, I had a total artistic block. That’s when I started playing with books and that’s it really.”

That was 1997. All those years on and his studio is a treasure trove of old and second hand tomes. His latest exhibition focuses on the idea of imagined lands, the result of a fascination with maps and cartography fed by his viewing of one of the first Atlases ever published – a 16th century example of cartography he was lent access to by the State Library.

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Nicholas: “There has always been an attraction to history and the evolution of information and how books are often rendered obsolete five or ten years after being published. Recently my interest has been focussed on the idea of an imagined land – Atlantis or Xanadu – those places where there is something unknown. I find that really enthralling.”

Fashion, too, has formed a part of his art by virtue of its importance to his sense of person, a trait he inherited from his always-elegant mother.

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Nicholas: “Part of the work that I make is about collection and going to markets and finding certain things and that also happens with fashion, with finding something different. It ties in with that idea of presenting yourself, being a curator of style as well as a collector of objects.”

He expresses his love for the notion of a “uniform”, seen in his preference for boots and the moustache he has carried for 20 years. Not to mention his love of timeless fashions bought when the artistic wage was supplemented by a second career: a beautiful Lanvin shirt, a Balenciaga jumper, Pierre Hardy shoes.

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Down and out is clearly not a style choice for this artist, clad as he is in a favoured pair of Crockett & Jones.

Nicholas: “My grandmother still wears high heels at 82.”

He smiles. Expect no less.

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Nicholas Jones’ current exhibition, A Conspiracy of Cartographers, is on show at the State Library in the Dome Reading Room.

www.bibliopath.org

e: bibliopath@gmail.com